EWU professor wins Alzheimer’s Association award


Dr. Jane Pimentel

By Amanda Haworth, Chief Copy Editor

One of EWU’s professors was recently awarded the Clacey McNary Volunteer of the Year (2018) Award for the Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter “in recognition of outstanding service.” Jane Pimentel is a professor in the department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

“It was, of course, a surprise and is … named after somebody who had done so much for the Alzheimer’s Association in the past,” Pimentel said.

Being that the Alzheimer’s Association is national, Pimentel winning this award among others within Washington state is a huge accomplishment. She received the award in Seattle at the Discovery Conference this past fall. It’s always kind of a surprise and humbling because you feel like ‘I’m not doing that much, you know’ but I do three things for the Alzheimer’s Association.”

Besides teaching at EWU, Pimentel dedicates a lot of her time to the cause.

There’s such a stigma associated with having Alzheimer’s or a different type of dementia that is really hard and a lot of people might become socially isolated because it’s so awkward.”

— Dr. Jane Pimentel

“For one, I am what they like to call a community educator. But I basically volunteer to present information to the community,” Pimentel said. “I will present at senior centers, at the libraries, at churches, on very specific topics of dementia. I will do a presentation just called ‘The Basics of Dementia.’”

Pimentel’s dedication shows in her actions through volunteering and educating.

“The other thing I participate in is as a facilitator of a support group for people with early stage dementia,” Pimentel said. The Alzheimer’s Association’s major fundraising effort happens every fall all over the place and it’s their walk … They have a big walk here in Spokane every October and it’s in Riverfront Park. I support it financially but from a volunteer side, I work to get Eastern students involved in the walk and then the Eastern students volunteer in so many different ways to help with the walk, help to disseminate information, help answer questions.

Pimentel really likes seeing EWU students stepping up and supporting the walk if not financially, then with their time.

According to Pimentel, passion plays a huge role in earning an award like this.

“I don’t know if it is qualifications as much as participation. A true desire to make a difference in the community regarding the knowledge of what is dementia and how people and families can still live well with dementia well into the course of disease,” Pimentel said. “There’s such a stigma associated with having Alzheimer’s or a different type of dementia that is really hard and a lot of people might become socially isolated because it’s so awkward. You go out into the public and you have a memory problem. How do you communicate, how do you navigate?”

Pimentel gave a better understanding of what exactly leads to Alzheimer’s.

“Think of dementia as an umbrella term. So dementia is a general term referring to progressive cognitive decline that interferes with daily life,” Pimentel said. “The diseases that can cause that dementia are many. Alzheimer’s is the most common disease. It’s the most common so we know the most about Alzheimer’s.”

Awards like these single out those who have gone above and beyond like Pimentel who demonstrates her passion for educating and volunteering.